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Solar-Powered Plane Flies for 26 Hours
“I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career,” Mr. Borschberg said as he landed, according to a statement from the organizers of the project. “Just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun. I have just flown more than 26 hours without using a drop of fuel and without causing any pollution.” (more)
Except vines didn’t weave your plane together, and the plane’s battery just got 26 usage-hours closer to decommission. The environmental costs of plane construction, maintenance, and battery replacement must be accrued per-mile. You did cause pollution. The question is: how much? Have environmentalists ever seen a lithium mine?
Extremely important comment by unsolicitedanalysis. This plane really does remind me in a strange way of the Wright brothers, and how they must have felt. Our industrial progress (in which flight played a critical role) has sort of come full-circle. Over the next century or so, we face a monumental energy crisis. A crisis that I am sure we will surpass by transitioning slowly into a world of alternative energy (I do not want to say renewable!). However, we should never forget that the transition is not simple. It is expensive. Very expensive. It will not happen overnight. It will involve more energy (in its current form) than ever.
As they say, it is a small step for flight, a giant leap for mankind.